Everybody’s got opinions. Sometimes it’s better to keep them to yourself. And just listen. Listen compassionately. Listen with your heart. Don’t comment. Allow the other person to speak from their heart.
This seems to be one of the hardest skills we have to learn in life. We don’t have to fix everything. In his famous book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” Dr. John Gray wrote of how men and women listen differently. In order to communicate with the opposite sex, men must stop trying to solve problems. Women just want to be heard. To be understood. To vent their anger or frustration. Women aren’t looking for solutions. They just want their partner’s or friend’s empathy.
The truth is – women try to fix things too. Especially with their friends. When one woman confides in another that life has taken a downturn, or her job stinks, or her boyfriend just left her and is living with another woman – she’s not looking for a solution. She just wants to let it all out. She just wants her friend to listen compassionately from beginning to end.
Can you train yourself to be a compassionate listener? Can you help by not helping? Can you listen without comment or judgment? Can you simply open up your ears and your heart and let another person talk with their heart?
According to Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist Monk and peace advocate, deep and compassionate listening is the way to resolve all conflicts, whether it be between romantic partners, parents and children, terrorists and politicians. Watch this interesting dialogue about compassionate listening with Thich Nhat Hahn and Oprah Winfrey:
It’s not easy. But it’s necessary. To be a good friend, to be a good partner, to be a good person – sometimes you just have to shut up!